Consultation Needs for Young Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Admitted to an Adult Tertiary Care Hospital: Implications for Inpatient Practice

J Pediatr Nurs. 2021 Sep-Oct;60:288-292. doi: 10.1016/j.pedn.2021.07.029. Epub 2021 Aug 13.


Background: Children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), particularly those with medical complexity, account for a large proportion of pediatric inpatients and are increasingly surviving to adulthood. However, few studies have evaluated the inpatient care of this population after transition to adult hospitals. This paper describes a Med-Peds Hospitalist service providing inpatient consultation for young adults with childhood conditions and offers a window into issues likely to be faced by young adults with IDD as they face increased admissions to adult hospitals.

Methods: A single center retrospective chart review was performed of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities referred to the Med-Peds consult service at a large urban adult academic medical center.

Findings: The most common medical recommendations provided focused on diagnosis and management of gastrointestinal, neurologic, and respiratory issues. Coordination between pediatric and adult caregivers, disposition planning, communication and family support, and guidance on weight-based dosing were also commonly provided services.

Discussion: Young adults with IDD face new challenges when admitted to adult hospitals. In this single-center study, several areas were identified where expert consultation could be helpful. The need for structured coordination of care for this vulnerable patient population was highlighted. Knowledgeable consultative services may be an effective intervention to address the unique needs of hospitalized young adults with IDD.

Application to practice: Hospitals should consider structured inpatient programs, care-paths, or consultation from providers knowledgeable in the care of young adults with intellectual disabilities in order to improve the inpatient care of this population.

Keywords: Adults; Hospitalization; Inpatient; Intellectual and developmental disabilities; SHCN (special healthcare needs); Transition.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Developmental Disabilities / diagnosis
  • Developmental Disabilities / therapy
  • Humans
  • Inpatients*
  • Intellectual Disability* / diagnosis
  • Intellectual Disability* / therapy
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tertiary Care Centers
  • Young Adult